Mini camp began for the St. Louis Rams and their incoming crop of rookies on Saturday and there was plenty of chatter about what kind of impact these first year players could have on a team needing immediate contributions. A few players in particular really impressed coaches with their raw skill sets and that is reason for optimism heading into the real meat of the work to come as the team attempts to install the entire playbook by mid-June.
Obviously the Rams are in desperate need of some playmakers in their secondary following last year’s injury-plagued campaign. The team believes that they have found two instant upgrades in the back level of defense with both second round defensive back Janoris Jenkins and third rounder Trumaine Johnson.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher was quick to point out the intangibles that both players have to offer as he said: “They’re both very athletic and both have very good pass catching ability and hand-eye coordination and they’re learning. They’re learning, they’re physical, they have long arms. They’re pretty good at the position.” Those positive words bode well for a defense that didn’t have many healthy bodies left at season’s end.
Clearly all eyes were on prized first round defensive tackle Michael Brockers as well and Fisher highlighted his top pick’s strongest asset saying: “I would say just his quickness for a big man, his change of direction. It’s hard to measure his strength out here, other than on the bags, but he’s got great quickness and long arms. He’s going to be an impact player for us.”
Along with those coming into the league with high expectations, the Rams also added a few undrafted free agents with plenty of potential. Linebacker Sammy Brown from Houston, offensive tackle Joe Long of Wayne State, and T. Bob Hebert of LSU all have tons of promise to make the roster. Brown was dubbed as an inconsistent performer with a lack of drive, but he could be a much needed addition to a sparse linebacking corps. Long is the younger brother of Miami Dolphins tackle Jake Long who was chosen first overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. Hebert is the son of former quarterback for the Michigan Panthers of the USFL and for the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.
This weekend was just one small step in beginning the turnaround that the Rams are eager to begin with this new coaching staff. The coming weeks will be crucial in tracking just how quickly this team figures to be ready for the 2012 season.